Thursday, December 31, 2015
God has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
God52 has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
God 53 has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
You have probably heard about the Texas teen, Ethan Couch, whose drinking and driving led to the deaths of bystanders and a friend being paralysed. This would seem to be a slam dunk for conviction, but no, money bought a skilled lawyer who convinced a judge that the kid was suffering from "affluenza" a condition brought on through coddling by his rich parents. He didn't know the difference between right and wrong because of it. The irony that money also provided this highly suspect defense was apparently lost on the judge, who let the young man off with a slap on the wrist. No jail time, even though he created havoc and destroyed lives.
We heard about Ethan again two weeks ago when a posted video showed him partying with friends. He and his enabling mother took off for Mexico where they were eventually found. They are now being extradicted and we can only hope that Ethan goes to jail for a long time.
What strikes me is that no one gets off with a "poorfluenza" defense. Okay, some judges are lenient with young people who come from circumstances where poverty has contributed to their criminal behaviour. But despite what we might think, by and large "if you do the crime, you do the time." Even though study after study shows that it is poverty, not privilege, which results in anti-social behaviour, money buys freedom and the poor go to prison.
During Advent we heard the passage in Luke 1 which is often called The Magnificat, Mary's song of praise for the new order God will bring through Jesus. I am moved every time I hear it, and I know that we still have so far to go before this promise is realized.